The importance of patient engagement has grown enormously in recent years and continues to do so. An increasing number of tech companies and start-ups promote patient engagement platforms for healthcare companies to deploy patient services. Still, only a few are designed to fulfill the patient engagement requirements of global pharma in particular, including compliance in different regulatory environments, a high degree of local configurability, and actual impact with patients. But how can pharma companies ensure they choose platforms that will meet their patient engagement requirements? Here are 5 essential elements to look out for.
#1. Proven Patient Engagement
While this may seem rather obvious, claiming to offer patient engagement and proving you can do so are not the same. Patient engagement platforms require plenty of iterations to achieve exemplary levels of acceptance, a process that cannot be rushed. Continuous improvements are then necessary to ensure it meets the needs of users.
Furthermore, the long-term benefits of digital patient service can only be provided if engagement is sustained. For pharma, this matters in the context of digital patient support and digital patient education, but increasingly also for digital therapeutics. This is why it is essential for pharma to look beyond flashy sales pitches and find a patient engagement platform that has the numbers to back up the claims. As a starting point, here are some benchmarks for the MyTherapy patient engagement platform:
- Refined in 300+ iterations
- Over 5 million users worldwide
- Over 100 million monthly interactions
- An average 4.8-star rating from >100k users
By building a digital patient service upon a platform with proven patient engagement and acceptance, pharma can be confident that development efforts can focus on building proprietary modules that are truly valued by patients.
#2. Global Scalability and Local Configurability
Pharma companies tend to operate on a global level; their partners must do likewise. To be globally scalable, a patient engagement platform for sure needs to be able to handle millions of users. Also, it needs to support any language, including those written right-to-left. It needs to allow for granular management of approvals - English texts approved in Canada may not be necessarily the same ones as those approved in the US. Additionally, a platform's privacy and consent management need to be configurable on a local market level.
An entirely different type of scalability requirement is the capability to build configuration options step-by-step: The topic was discussed in our interview with Merck’s Helen Gray, who leads the adveva® digital patient education program that is built upon MyTherapy. Helen outlined the importance of involving local markets early and ensure that a “toolbox” is offered to allow countries to configure components that best fit their needs, budget, and regulations.
At smartpatient, we have used MyTherapy to deploy partner products to over 25 markets, gaining the experience required to work with players who operate on a truly global scale. Our modular approach provides the flexibility to meet the demands of both big and small markets alike.
#3. Regulatory Expertise
Closely related to the topic of scalability is regulatory compliance. From the FDA to MDR, and from data privacy and security to advertising restrictions for Rx medications, the world of digital health is more comprehensively regulated than ever. For any patient engagement platform provider, being able to scale globally means also understanding what is required to meet the diverse range of requirements that exist and are constantly evolving. In a previous blog post, we explained why local regulations should not curtail global ambitions – providing they are adequately planned for.
Furthermore, what may be considered simply an app in one market might be a medical device in another, so it is crucial that pharma partners with companies able to understand where this line falls in different countries. Aspects such as an ISO 13485-certified Quality Management System may prove invaluable in avoiding costly and timely delays in markets where regulatory barriers are highest.
#4. Low Barriers to Patient Access
If you have found a patient engagement platform that has proven engagement, global scalability, and regulatory compliance, the next step is to get your patients using it. When it comes to adoption, first impressions are key: A user lost once can rarely be convinced to give your service another chance. One key learning in this respect is that a patient engagement platform should put a lot of attention on an onboarding process that is as frictionless as possible. The last thing you should be doing is making patients go through a lengthy registration process – or even register for a patient support program at all – before providing initial access.
A far more effective process is to get patients on board early on by making the barriers as low as possible. Once the benefits of an effective patient engagement platform have been realized, any registration that is necessary at a later date will seem far less burdensome. While this may seem like a logical approach, it is one that is easy to get wrong. Pharma must ensure any patient engagement platform provider it partners up with understands the importance of access and has a proven track record when it comes to patient adoption.
#5. Understanding of Patient Voice
In the first point in this blog post, we said that “the long-term benefits of a patient support offering can only be provided if engagement is sustained.” This sustainability does not just come from aspects such as usability and features, but also from delivering content that is both useful for patients and written in a way that resonates with them. It is a skill that comes with experience and that is often not well-established with pharma and its agencies, who typically rather address healthcare professionals. The difference can be measured; when testing pharma’s patient contents against versions rewritten by our editorial team, we found in-app clickthrough rates increase by 2-digit percentage points, for some pieces to over 40%.
Furthermore, an understanding of human behavior can make content a powerful tool when it comes to issues such as medication adherence. Thinking of content in terms of ‘intervention design’ and involving behavior change experts can ensure that it is delivered in the right voice, at the right time.
MyTherapy: Pharma’s Patient Engagement Platform
MyTherapy is trusted by the likes of Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer to provide class-leading patient engagement. We have launched >70 patient offerings around the globe, with our partners benefitting from less uncertainty, faster time-to-market, and regulatory compliance that matches their global ambitions. If you can benefit from MyTherapy as a patient engagement platform, don’t hesitate to get in touch.